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How can I control my temper?

Q: This is regarding my failure to manage my temper. I lose my temper and get irritated very soon and blow up everything. Of late things have really got out of my hand. I get angry at my work place, at home at my servant, and know this is also affecting my child who is just 1 year old. Whenever I scold my maid servant, my child who is standing and watching starts to cry and I can see the fear in her eyes. My father was very short tempered and I used to be very scared of him. I do not want my daughter to be scared of me and I do not want her to scream and shout like I do. I feel very guilty. I want to be a good mother and set the right kind of behaviour for my daughter. How can I control my temper?

A:One of the biggest obstacles to personal success is anger. When we fail to control our anger, we suffer several blows. Anger impedes our ability to be happy, because anger and happiness are incompatible. It sends marriages and other family relationships off-course, reduces our social skills while compromising other relationships too. Anger also means losing interactions, discussions or arguments that you could have won in a more gracious mood. It leads to increased stress which is ironic, since stress often increases anger. We make mistakes when we are angry, because anger makes it harder to process information. Like you, a lot of people are beginning to wake up to the dangers of anger and the need for anger management skills and strategies. Let us look at some of these. Ask yourself this question: Will the object of my anger matter six months from now? Chances are, you will see things from a calmer perspective. Ask yourself: What is the worst consequence of the object of my anger? If someone caused you to get late for something, you will probably find that three minutes is not such a big deal. Imagine yourself doing the same thing. Come on, admit that you sometimes get others late, too ... sometimes by accident. Do you get angry at yourself? Then, ask yourself: Did that person do this to me on purpose? In many cases, you will see that they were just careless or in a rush, and really did not mean you any harm. Try counting to ten before saying anything. This may not address the anger directly, but it can minimise the damage you will do while angry. Try some new and improved variations of counting to ten. For instance, try counting to ten with a deep slow breath in between each number. Deep breathing -- from your diaphragm -- helps people relax. Or try pacing your numbers as you count. How about One-chocolate-ice-cream, two-chocolate-ice-cream, or use something else that you find either pleasant or humorous. Visualise a relaxing experience. Close your eyes, and travel there in your mind. Make it your stress-free oasis. One thing I do not recommend is "venting" your anger. Sure, a couple of swift blows to your pillow might make you feel better (better, at least, than the same blows to the door!), but research shows that venting anger only increases it. In fact, speaking or acting with any emotion simply rehearses, practices and builds that emotion. If these tips do not help and you still feel you lack sufficient anger management skills, you might need some professional help.

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